Botanic Cottage is coming!

cottage 1Sutherland Forsyth, the recently appointed Community Engagement Coordinator for the Botanic Cottage, will be working at RBGE for the next three years. He has written this update for the Friends:‘There will have been moments when the prospect of the Botanic Cottage being saved – let alone rebuilt – will have seemed like a distant prospect, a dream which might never become reality, scuppered by ‘life’ getting in its way. However, today we stand just weeks away from ground being broken and the Botanic Cottage rising like a phoenix from the ashes in its new home in the Botanics Demonstration Garden. We’re well on the way to reaching our fund raising goal, with £1.3m now pledged, including a large contribution from the Heritage Lottery Fund.Later this Spring not only will building work have begun, but public and community engagement programming connected with the cottage will have started, and all going well, a dig of the old cottage site on Leith Walk will have helped us to understand even more about the history of this unique building.

I’ve already met some of the Friends of Hopetoun Crescent Garden and I hope to meet many more in the future – your role in saving the cottage means that you will always be an important part of its story, and as the keepers of the last surviving part of John Hope’s Leith Walk garden, you are helping to preserve a living link with RBGE’s past.Over the next few months there will be a range of activity connected with Botanic Cottage taking place, some of which I hope you will be able to be involved with. The community archaeological dig of the Leith Walk site (date to be confirmed – but likely to be in late March/early April) will give people the chance to get ‘hands on’ with history – if you are at all interested in having a go at being an archaeologist, or with helping us with this event, please do let me know and I can give more information. s.forsyth@rbge.ac.uk Do also look out for the little shed which will be appearing later this Spring in the Demonstration Garden at RBGE, in which you will hear a sounds-cape featuring some familiar voices talking about Botanic Cottage, as well as information about the project to rebuild it.

If you fancy getting your walking shoes on, jumping onto a bike or hopping on a bus, then in April you can make use of our new ‘Medical Map’ of Edinburgh, which connects many of the historic sites in the city connected with medicine, including the site of the old Leith Walk Botanic Garden, and which will be available at the Botanics. There is much more activity planned, so keep your eyes peeled and your ears open, as Botanic Cottage is coming…!‘

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New Regius Keeper Appointed at RBGE

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) is delighted to announce the appointment of Simon Milne MBE as its new Regius Keeper. Simon will succeed Professor Stephen Blackmore following his retiral later this month and will become only the 16th person to hold the post since it was created in 1699. Sir Muir Russell, Chair of RBGE Board of Trustees paid tribute to the new appointee: “I am delighted to have someone of Simon’s calibre joining us to continue the excellent work done by Steve Blackmore. Simon is familiar with many of the issues facing us, particularly our hot topics of conservation and biodiversity.” For the last ten years Simon has been CEO at the Scottish Wildlife Trust, based in Edinburgh, and for four years before that he was Director of the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens in Hampshire .Simon Milne said he was thrilled to be offered the opportunity to take up such a prestigious and important role, adding: “The role of Regius Keeper at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh offers me an opportunity to return to the remarkable world of plants. I am looking forward with relish to new challenges and the opportunity to play a crucial role in developing appreciation, education, knowledge and conservation of the plant kingdom.” The new Regius Keeper will take up his post in February.

Green Flag Award

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We were delighted to keep our Green Flag which makes the work which the committee does worth while. And although our marks were down in 2013, hopefully, when the paths are relaid and the railings are repainted later this year, our marks will go up again. The monthly clean-ups (last Sunday of each month at 11am) are mostly done by the committee but litter is often picked up by other park users. as well as ourselves in-between times and we thank them.Visit to Botanic Garden, Saturday 1 June.Several members of the Friends had a delightful experience on this lovely early summer day. Jane Corrie  led us to various little-known corners of the Garden, pointing out and expounding on many plants which we might otherwise have missed, or just admired briefly in passing. One feature which couldn’t possibly have been missed was the glorious blossoming of the many rhododendron bushes, for which the Garden is justly famous. These were at their absolute best the day we were there, and though sometimes the purple ones seem unexciting, the variety of hues on offer was spectacular. We are very lucky to have such a Garden within easy reach, and to have a guide such as Jane to open our eyes to what is in it.Jane also pointed out the spot where the Botanic Cottage will eventually be re-assembled, using traditional techniques. This will create a building which will be both beautiful and useful, fulfilling an important role as an educational and community facility, together with indoor learning spaces and storage.Perhaps it is worth noting that although this visit was publicised well in advance, very few members took advantage of the chance to have such a personal tour with a knowledgeable guide. We hope that if such an event is repeated, as is likely, more members will be able to come along and enjoy it. It’s too good to miss!